Somewhat recommended**While “Mamma Mia!:, the play written by Catherine Johnson utilizing the hits of ABBA ( Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus with some additional numbers by Stig Anderson) has become a cult favorite and has been on Broadway for more than ten years, I didn’t feel the magic that I associate with the coming of this show, in the current touring production. The show comes in as often as every 18 months or so, and we have seen countless productions of this little love story about a single mother and her daughter and their life on a Greek Island. The daughter, all her life has wondered about her missing father and now, just before she gets married, she plans to invite the three men mentioned in her mother’s diary during the period when she was conceived. Sounds simple, right?
Well, the story is a little goofy, but the music of ABBA is sensational and while this production is not as solid as previous ones, there is some strong talent and some of the cast members are just right. One of the drawbacks to a touring show is that the set, being portable is not as classy as the productions that stay for more than a week and they have better sound equipment, but the music is the same and as I said earlier, you cannot go wrong with songs like”Dancing Queen”, “Money,Money,Money”, “Take A Chance on Me”,’The Name of The Game”, “I have A Dream”, “Knowing Me,Knowing You”, the title song “Mamma Mia” and of course “Thank You For The Music” ( my words to these fine writers). Of course, there are even more, so despite this production, now on stage at The Oriental Theatre through the 29th, not being the most desireable, it is, nevertheless a nice evning out and a chance to hear this music again, not only during the story, but during the curtain calls, another round of repeats. To be honest, during this final segment, the energy level soars, so do not leave when you think it’s over- sit for another 15 minutes and get what you paid for, high energy ABBA.
As I stated earlier, there are some strong voices and some casting that is perfect. Kaye Tuckerman is a wonderful Donna Sheridan, the mother who was a wild girl in the 1970’s and has a daughter to remind her. She has a powerful voice and truly shines during “Take A Chance on Me!” Her daughter,Sophie is handled by Chloe Tucker, who also has a nice singing voice, but at times her range through me off. I wasn’t sure if the sound man was playing around or her “fannie Pack” was jiggling, but her volume went up and down, more up than down. The three men who “might be Sophie’s dad are Harry Bright (Paul DeBoy),Bill Austin (deftly handled by Brian Ray Norris and Sam Carmichael ( Christian Whelan, whose singing voice did not match his stature). Donna’s two best buds-Rosie and Tanya, who were her back-up singers in “the old days” are played to perfection by Mary Callahan ( great comic flair) and Alison Ewing ( who exudes glamour with her talent and is one sexy lady). They can sing as well as crack-wise ( an old term for be funny) but very fitting as these were ladies of the 70’s!
If you love the music, you will enjoy the experience of watching this simple story about love between a mother and a daughter, relationships and memories as well as changes. There are some moments that might not be suitable for little ones, but the music is the reason for this one!
This is a one week run with performances on Wednesday thru Friday nights at 7:30 p.m.,Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $18-$85 which is very affordable compared to what the original show sold for years ago. You can purchase tickets at any of the Broadway In Chicago theatre box offices, by phone at800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph ( between State and Dearborn) and very easy to get to by using public transportation. There are lots of places to grab a bite, but I suggest while you are in the Loop, take a walk down Randolph to State and visit the newest Walgreen’s- you will not believe your eyes!